Though conflicted, I vote to keep the statues, an honest reading of history

FIle/Staff The Confederate Monument stands on Broad Street.

Dear President Trump,

 

Up until now I have not been a supporter of your presidency, and thought most of the decisions you were making were wrong, or wrongly motivated. They still may be, however that is not the point of this letter.

With the recent violence in my home state of Virginia and your response to the Charlottesville violence, I have changed my position on you and wanted to personally pledge my support in the way that you have handled that situation, however unpopular it may be.

I would have preferred that you had offered a more heartfelt condolence to the family of Heather Heyer and the two sheriff’s deputies who lost their lives while there in response. The preventable loss of life is always the most difficult, and I was concerned that one of the deputies who perished was my cousin. He was mobilized in response to the state of emergency, but arrived safely.

^

It is very unfortunate that the only groups to bring “media” attention to the removal of Civil War memorials are groups of White Nationalists and misguided hate groups. Watching the violence on television, there is plenty of hate on the BLM/ANTIFA side as well, and I’m asking myself: What is the solution here?

I studied the Civil War through books and documentaries growing up in Virginia. It was a sense of pride that the South stood up to the North, more over states’ rights than slavery is what I was taught. I have looked across many battlefields where thousands of young men on both sides lost their lives. I have been to Appomattox, to the McLean House where the surrender of General Lee was negotiated to Grant.

^

I have always looked at the war more from the standpoint that most of the soldiers involved in the war were not of the class to own slaves; many were just young boys. So I always saw the Civil War as a fight against oppression on both sides. The South fought against the government and the control that would be lost; the North fought for ultimate control and to end slavery.

I think of how ill equipped the South was compared to the North, and how hard they fought, for a way of life that they didn’t even have access to.

The generals who led these young and old men into battle, and many to their deaths, deserve to be remembered – if not for the sake of a grim reminder of how in the not-so-recent past our country was divided entirely, then for the sake of remembering the grim situation they were in and the horror they witnessed.

The media makes it seem as if the country is near the verge of dividing again over the mere image of Confederates memorialized, as one side sees it as some form of oppression. Removing the statues only angers those who appreciate their memorial as history and where we have been as a divided nation.

I have been personally struggling with this, trying to come to terms with how I feel or what is right in this situation – as I feel strongly that the statues should stand, yet I am a Christian and have a family and children and work every day and try to invest in the stock market. I am not a white supremacist; I have served in the U.S. Navy and met many fine people from all nations while in service at home and abroad.

My neighbors across the street are African-American and the neighbors beside me are from Guam. Both have served in the military, and I can honestly say I prefer both of them over my white neighbors who have not. There is good and bad in every race; not one is greater than another.

^

In summary, Mr. President, I appreciate the way you have handled this situation, in the face of enormous pressure to give in and say something more “politically correct.” You have more clearly illustrated the divide in our country, and it is my hope we can find a way to show both sides that there is another path besides hate, bigotry, and violence.

If we do not find this path soon, it is my concern that we will find ourselves again embroiled in civil war, with many casualties and much turmoil – perhaps not sanctioned by the government, but by the people who want to stand up for what they believe is their heritage and a direct attack on American History.

The media and the way they roil on your every word, or lack of words, has become a sickening joke. You can’t even squint at the solar eclipse without a solid week of criticism. It has become clear that your attacks on the media are justified, so it appears that independent media or news agencies are our best bet for finding out what’s going on. Probably a good thing Steve Bannon went back to Breitbart News.

Again, I want to proclaim how unfortunate it is that only the Alt-right or white supremacists are taking direct insult to the removal of the statues. I would like to do more as a civil, sane American to defuse the situation and say, look – lots of people who are just people like the statues; we don’t want them torn down because they remind us of our history as a nation, right or wrong.

You can’t just tear a page out of history because you don’t like it anymore. If you do, where do you stop?

^

The writer lives in Evans.

 

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